How Topcoder crowdsources solutions to tough coding challenges with Chrome Browser

Editor’s note: Today’s post is from Kyle Bowerman, Community Architect for Topcoder, a crowdsourcing marketplace that connects businesses with designers, developers and data scientists to build technology solutions. Topcoder uses Chrome Browser as its development environment, creating extensions to GitHub and simulating various device environments.

Companies need developers who can create apps that solve complex problems. Developers want to show off their coding skills. That’s where Topcoder comes in—we connect the talents of a global community of 1 million developers to companies with coding issues to solve.

The process is simple: companies come to us with programming requests, and we create crowdsourcing challenges that let our community of developers demonstrate what they can do. The size and scope of these challenges can vary—some are exploratory and open-ended, like choosing the best grid library for JavaScript; others are very task-based and specific, like building a new screen for a mobile app. When developers from our community create a solution, they win prize money, and our enterprise customers get the apps and technology solutions they need.

Since our community develops on browser, our choice of browser as a development environment is very important. When we started Topcoder in 2001, we used Firefox’s development tools. However, we switched to Chrome Browser when it was launched in 2008 because, from our perspective as coders, it’s the best environment for development. The development tools in Chrome Browser remove roadblocks to fast delivery of projects—like the need to test apps on physical devices, or worrying if the solution will work on every browser. Because of this, we develop for Chrome Browser first, then test to be sure our apps work just the same on other browsers.

Without the development tools, like the plug-in library, built into Chrome Browser, there’d be no way developers could work at the speed our customers need. Let’s say the challenge is to fix a problem with an app’s “submit” button on a particular phone model. With Device Mode in Chrome Browser, our developers can simulate all kinds of devices instantly—even screen sizes and resolutions—without needing to test on the actual physical device. This can be a critical time-saver—we don’t have to go back to the customer and say, “sorry, we’ll get back to you in a few weeks after we find that device and test the code.” We trust Chrome Browser will help our developers create solutions that will work no matter which device they’re accessed on.

Extensions are another tool we use to connect developers to challenges faster, so companies get quality coding work done fast. We created an extension that takes GitHub issue tickets and quickly turns them into Topcoder challenges. The extension exposes our challenges to the coding community in just a few seconds, instead of days. We also created an extension that lets developers search GitHub for Topcoder challenges by keyword, and look up other Topcoder developers.

With Chrome Browser, our developers get a better development environment, our enterprise customers get the apps they need, and all of us get a great browser experience in the process. That’s a winning solution for everyone.